Wall St choppy as tech shares decline

US stocks ended little changed in choppy trading yesterday, closing out an August the bulls would like to forget.

Positive data surprises sustained a rally for most of the session, but declines in technology shares capped overall gains.

The S&P 500 bounced off the key technical level of 1,040 for the third time in the last five sessions.

The S&P 500 fell 4.7 per cent in August, the third time in the last four months the benchmark has lost at least that much, pressured by growing evidence the economic recovery is sputtering. The month also witnessed the five lowest daily trading volumes of the year.

US consumer confidence rose more than expected in August and home prices ticked up in June, though a separate report showed business activity in the US Midwest grew in August a bit less than economists expected.

“It seems like the market is whipping around on every bit of data that comes out,” said Eric Kuby, chief investment officer at North Star Investment Management in Chicago.

“Each piece of news causes a reaction, then 15 minutes later, people are looking for the next piece of news.”

Broadcom tumbled 6.4 per cent to $29.96 and the PHLX semiconductor index closed at its lowest level in almost 10 months in the aftermath of Friday’s revenue warning from sector bellwether Intel.

“We see Intel as the first of many possible earnings that could be short of expectations,” said Steve Goldman, market strategist at Weeden & Co in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Intel, down 1.6 per cent at $17.67, said on Friday that its third- quarter revenue could fall below its own estimates.

The Dow Jones industrial average edged up 4.99 points, or 0.05 per cent, to 10,014.72.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 ticked up 0.41 point, or 0.04 per cent, to 1,049.33. The Nasdaq Composite slipped 5.94 points, or 0.28 per cent, to close at 2,114.03.

For the month, the Dow fell 4.31 per cent while the Nasdaq tumbled 6.24 per cent.
The S&P 500 lost 4.75 per cent, posting its worst August since 2001 in terms of percentage declines.